Field studies of hantavirus infection in rodents report that a higher percentage of infected individuals are males than females. To determine whether males were more susceptible to hantavirus infection than females, adult male and female Long Evans rats (Rattus norvegicus) were inoculated with doses of Seoul virus ranging from 10-4 to 106 PFU. The 50% infective doses (ID50) were not significantly different for male and female rats (100.05 and 100.8 PFU, respectively). To determine whether sex differences in response to infection were related to circulating sex steroid hormones, sex steroid concentrations were manipulated and antibody responses and virus shedding were assessed following inoculation with the ID90. Regardless of hormone treatment, males had higher anti-Seoul virus immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgG2a (i.e., Th1) responses than females and IgG1 (i.e., Th2) responses similar to those of females. Males also shed virus in saliva and feces longer than females. Manipulation of sex steroids in adulthood did not alter immune responses or virus shedding, suggesting that sex steroids may organize adult responses to hantavirus earlier during ontogeny.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science